17th Sunday in Ordinary Time (July 29, 2012)

In Sunday’s Mass readings, Elisha, Paul, and Jesus strive to fill the “empties,” so to speak. Both Elisha and Jesus multiply food to feed great numbers of people. In the Second Reading, Paul tries to fill a spiritual emptiness by reminding us of the need to strengthen the bonds of unity and peace we have with other people.

Hundreds of thousands of words have been written speculating what really happened with that miracle of the loaves and fishes. Literal readers of the story would say that as soon as Jesus blessed the little boy’s offering, bingo, there suddenly appeared a mountain of food. Others would say that the apostles had miraculous baskets that automatically filled with bread and fish in such a way that the baskets weren’t emptied. But the most common interpretation is that the little boy’s sharing of his meal prompted or shamed individuals into sharing what they had with the others around them.

We humans don’t stint when it comes to taking care of ourselves. Whenever we travel, or go tailgating, or camping, etc., we always make sure there’s enough food and drink … plus extra. Rarely do we sit down and carefully figure out exact portions or quantities. The little boy was no exception. He had five loaves and two fish … that’s a pretty good meal for a kid. He probably would have eaten a couple of fish sandwiches and then tossed the rest away. We’d do the same.

We do respond quite generously when it comes to parish food drives or pleas for aid. I just wish we wouldn’t waste so much, since less waste on our part means more for others. But even though we waste a lot, I firmly believe that there is enough food to feed everyone in the world. The problem is not the quantity of food … it’s getting it to where it’s needed. It’s letting go of the “just in case” way of thinking, of choosing not to store grains till the price rises, etc. In other words, it’s a little less selfishness, and a little more recognition of how all people are my brothers and sisters. I wouldn’t want my family to do without, after all.

Love deeply, pray faithfully, laugh often!

herb yost reflections

Fr. Herb, C.S.C.

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